With the goal to simplify their lives as new parents and support them at a time when they need it most, British American Tobacco Egypt (BAT Egypt) has launched the Parents @ BAT, a new policy for fresh parents, which facilitates what is considered the hardest year of being a parent.
The policy, which will be applied effective 1st of January 2019 offers the following:
16 weeks of fully-paid maternity leave to mothers with a guarantee to return to their existing job or a suitable alternative.
It also offers employees flexible working options following mothers’ return to work during the first year, which includes reduced working hours and working from home. While fathers get days of fully paid paternity leave to fathers.
Moreover, the policy includes online parental coaching platform for mothers & line managers to support and manage career discussions and ease the transition to & from maternity leave.
Daily News Egypt met Human Resources Director of BAT Egypt, Hesham Helmy, and asked him about the details of the new policy applied across BAT globally, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
At BAT, we always strive to build a pool of diverse leaders. A diverse workforce brings variety of ideas, new ways of thinking and decision making to the table which reflects our consumer base and gives us a competitive advantage. We recognise that our leaders are progressing through different life stages and in addition to providing our employees with challenging and exciting careers, we are committed to supporting working parents to optimise their work and family responsibilities, especially in those critical early years. Our working environment acknowledges and supports parental responsibility, modern family dynamics and work-life balance. In line with this framework, BAT launched several initiatives; one of them is Parents @ BAT policy.
What was the criteria the programme pillars were decided upon?
BAT conducted an internal research globally to understand existing supporting tools offered to parents across different BAT end markets. Based on the research outcome Parents @ BAT guidelines were introduced and establish what we recommend as a minimum standard to provide support to new parents at all BAT entities. We intend that all new parents should be eligible to participate in the Parents @ BAT programme, regardless of how long they have been employed by the company.
As BAT Egypt management, we supported going beyond local regulations, specifically when it comes to maternity and paternity leaves to help new parents in their early parenthood.
Would you please elaborate about the five days paternity leave for fathers your programme offers?
We believe that providing fathers with five fully-paid days off is essential for them to support both new-born and mother throughout this critical period.
Are there any plans to increase that period of time for fathers?
This leave is not covered by Egyptian labour law. Nevertheless, as BAT Egypt we lead by example through introducing such an extra benefit to our employees.
If we identify a need for extending the leave beyond 5 days, we will put this into discussion as it will still serve the overall objectives of Parents @ BAT policy.
What other services do you provide children of your employees with?
We offer our employees’ dependants including their children a competitive medical insurance scheme which includes inpatient, outpatient, dental and optical coverages.
It’s worth mentioning that BAT Egypt covers new-borns from day one which is considered a competitive advantage when compared to other companies, where new-borns coverage usually starts 2 weeks post the delivery date.
BAT will provide access to Parents @ BAT Online to all new parents and their line managers as needed, to ease transition into parenthood, maternity leave and return to work. Toolkit is available to new parents and their line managers until up to 6 months after returning from leave.
Parents @ BAT offers the following:
Online coaching & learning modules to mothers and line managers which support throughout the full journey, designed in three stages: preparing for leave, preparing for return and post-return.
It also offers access to related policies and procedures.
Adding to that, networking opportunities through communities. Each community is made of three elements:
News & Knowledge: gets the latest updates & join newsworthy discussions on gender diversity, wellbeing, inclusion and women’s leadership. On top of that, top tips & recommendations from world class coaches on related topics.
Shared Communities: Browse and join online shared communities for peer support and moderated discussions on topics of special interest.
Private Communities: where you can post secure documents, host Q&A sessions and moderate closed discussions
What are the languages these platforms are offered to employees in?
The global Parents @ BAT site is accessible in English. Since a pre-requisite for BAT Egypt selection process is to have at least basic understanding of English, therefore it is convenient for us.
It is worth mentioning that other BAT End Markets can translate the content to their local languages if there is a need.